The Budapest Airport Runway Run 9.0 takes place tomorrow – but you should take a swab for a stem cell match today
I am the publisher of anna.aero. But I’m also a dad. At almost exactly the same time as my eight-year-old daughter, Brontë (“Bron”) was struck down with leukaemia in 2006, a kind and then-unknown young mother from Houston, Texas, went to a human tissue bank, gave a swab and went home thinking, like the rest of us, that she would never hear from them again.
In this case, in a matter of weeks, she was called up and selflessly went through all the processes necessary to give Bron a bone marrow transplant. A great example of international humanity. Later on she would write to me expressing her joy, placing her actions only second to the birth of her triplets. Bron struggled with her illness for five years, but the transplant gave her at least two clear years of near-normal life before she passed away in 2011 aged 12.
Many people take up causes and runs marathons etc as a coping mechanism after the loss of a loved one. But, strangely, I had been a runner for many years before Bron became ill, and my wife and I had both given samples to Anthony Nolan, the world’s first tissue bank, in the 1980s. Since the loss of Bron I honestly do not know how much we have raised in the cause of Anthony Nolan and other cancer charities, but it’s more than $500,000.
We have had fantastic support in this mission, especially from our very dear friends at Budapest Airport – a fact very justifiably recognised earlier this year when the Budapest Airport-anna.aero Runway Run won Organisational Fundraiser of the Year at Anthony Nolan Supporter Awards as a result of the €110,000 raised.
Then I had a reminder from the news this week that took me all the way back to my own circumstances. Esha Nadeswaran is a four year old girl from London who also has leukaemia. Esha desperately needs a bone marrow transplant – within the next month – but the problem is that her South Asian heritage is terribly under-represented on the worldwide network of stem cell registers.
So, my message to you today is this: You might not run, and may never in your life be seen competing in the Budapest Runway Run. And you might not give money to this cause, because you support another – that’s no problem – as long as you have a good cause. But what you must not wriggle out of is the obligation you have to be a potential stem cell donor (and for that matter a blood and organ donor). When I first gave a tissue sample in the 1980s, 20 years before Brontë became ill, I had to give a blood sample. Now all you have to do is spit in a tube. If you are one of our many readers in South Asia, or of South Asian origin, it’s very urgent, Esha has about a month left to live. Google and find out how today or ask Anthony Nolan to guide you. By Paul Hogan